I attended the New Media Expo in Las Vegas this year, and I thought that if you’re reading this blog — and you got here via social media — you’re most likely interested in what I learned at the digital content creation conference.
First off, I want to point out that everyone I met at #NMX, formerly BlogWorld, was genuinely nice and helpful. There’s a real sense of community. I felt free to nerd out and not feel like a nerd.
I came to the conference to learn from two different angles: from that of a blogger and that of a social media brand manager, which I do for my day job. What I learned spanned the theoretical and the practical, giving me some useable tips, as well as food for thought. Here are my top five takeaways, in no particular order:
1. Always create value.
Whether it’s through blog posts or social media, make sure that what you’re putting out there is valuable to your audience. Good content will always trump the bad. Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing and a hilarious speaker, said in his keynote speech that you have to give back to the social community, don’t just take. Feed the ecosystem. And as Lee Odden, NMX keynote speaker who writes at TopRank and is author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers By Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing (which I’m reading right now), says, empathize with others and relax the self-promotion on social media. It’s not all about you or your brand. When all you’re doing is promoting your own stuff with little or no engagement with your audience, then that’s not very valuable to anyone else, right?
2. A small audience isn’t necessarily bad.
Even if you don’t have a lot of followers on social media or your blog, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a loyal following. In fact, these fans might just be your best advocates. During his session “Crowdsourcing Influence,” Triberr founder Dino Dogan said that 92 percent of people trust recommendations from those they know, and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online. Fewer people — 58 percent — trust branded websites for information. Therefore, if you’re a company (or work for one) get content creators to create content for you that others will trust. Or, if you’re a blogger/content creator, make sure to engage with your community and feed it valuable content that they’ll trust. Martin Jones, who blogs for coxblue.com, Cox Communications Business Solutions’ blog, says that 57 percent of consumers make decisions before ever getting to the actual brand via an online search. So, a small, dedicated and vocal audience will help you in the long run.
3. Your brand is how other people see you, not how you see yourself.
Even if you’re just a casual blogger, you have a brand. And if you’re not telling your brand’s story, someone else probably is, says Jones. He says that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Humor blogger Luvvie Ajayi says that your brand comes with expectations and emotions, and it’s important to make those expectations that others have of your brand align with what you want your brand to be. Ajayi suggested looking at the Twitter lists you’re on, and if the kinds of lists you’re on don’t line up with where you want to be, then change the conversation. Color also matters when it comes to branding, as different colors evoke different feelings — something the designers out there well know, but it’s a good reminder. If you’re looking for a resource to help you with your brand, check out the Finding Your Brand Voice post from Social Media Explorer.
4. Pinterest is much more interesting and useful than I thought.
Cynthia Sanchez, who writes Oh So Pinteresting — an entire blog and podcast dedicated to getting the most out of Pinterest — opened my eyes to how much more the social media platform could be. Sanchez says that Pinterest drives more traffic than Twitter, Linkedin and Reddit combined, so it’s a site not to be overlooked. While Pinterest is billed as a place to digitally keep your own interests all in one place, that means as a brand you need to make sure you’re curating those interests well. Create useful boards for your audience, including seasonal ones, if it makes sense. Images with text get lots of repins. RichPins, which are available for businesses and offer added functionality — including notifications of price drops for merchandise! — are a new, useful choice. Also, Kludgy Mom has a helpful post about how to use Pinterest (thanks, @AmandaJoy).
5. Don’t build your house on rented land.
Don’t put too much into any one social media site. You don’t own it, and it could disappear quicker than you think. Companies that have a Facebook page but no website — I’m talking to you. Also, lots of companies think that they have to be on every single social media platform. But not all platforms are appropriate for all brands. Jones says to start a blog instead because you own this real estate. It’s not as dependent on the whims of the social media world.